7 Ideas of employee sustainability engagement activities

How to inspire and motivate the workplace through environmental action

Employee engagement through sustainability is not only positive to promote company values, but also to encourage improved relationships between co-workers.

Employees are interested in sustainability more than ever before. As concerns about climate change and corporate social responsibility (CSR) rise, companies are transitioning toward eco-friendly operations and manufacturing to appease consumer and employee demand. 

According to a recent IBM global survey, 67% of job applicants are more willing to apply for jobs at a sustainable business, while 68% are likely to accept an offer at these companies. 

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The numbers align with a Deloitte survey of Gen Z and Millennials — two of the leading demographics in the current labor market. According to the study, 28% of Millennials list climate change as their top priority, with 30% of Gen Z agreeing. Needless to say, corporate sustainability is good for hiring and retaining talent.

Companies interested in creating employee engagement through sustainability have plenty of opportunities in front of them. Here are seven tips that work for promoting sustainability in the workplace.

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1. Define Company’s Long-Term Goals

Companies must define their sustainability intent for the environment, socially and internally. Spelling out your growth strategy will ensure long-term CSR success — including finding ways to tie sustainability into the company’s mission. 

Defining your company’s sustainability goals gives employees a way to align their values with yours and seek a higher purpose within their careers. Of course, whatever the company’s environmental goals are should account for the overall business model and its products.

2. Partner With a Nonprofit

Businesses with a niche mission may partner with a nonprofit organization that coincides with the brand. Perhaps the company will donate a part of its earnings to the cause, host fundraiser events and collection drives, or provide special services to support and propel the nonprofit’s efforts. 

Engage employees through internal communications to inform and persuade participation. You might also publicize your nonprofit partnership through social media channels or directly with investors.

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3. Take a Team-Building Field Trip

Corporate sustainability takes as much collaboration as developing a marketing plan for a major client. Of course, collaboration always requires a high degree of teamwork. Cultivate employee engagement through sustainability by taking a team-building trip outdoors.

Whether you’re signing your employees up for a nature tour with an experienced naturalist, camping or glamping, an outdoor trip fosters a deeper connection between workers and the natural world. 

Be sure to pick the best season for an eco-friendly outdoor excursion. While summer might seem an obvious choice, cooler temperatures and scenic spring blooms are just as lovely.  

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4. Green the Supply Chain

When companies pledge to work with green vendors, they pressure the supply chain to adopt sustainable practices. Consider where you purchase office supplies and inquire about their actions to help the environment.

Do they use sustainable manufacturing operations or have a unique end-of-life program for products? Companies that sign contracts with green vendors and suppliers will demonstrate their profound commitment to the planet to their employees.

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5. Reduce Office Waste

According to a recent analysis from Beyond Plastics, the recycling rate is only 5%-6% in the U.S. — much lower than previously reported. The rest of our discarded goods end up overflowing landfills and seeping into the environment.

Engaging employees through sustainability initiatives could include implementing an office recycling program. Hang posters and furnish recycling bins to educate and encourage widespread recycling throughout the company. You could even turn office recycling into a competition among different departments, offering a reward at the end of the quarter for the most pounds of recycled materials. 

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6. Participate in Clean-Ups

Volunteering is a great way to get your employees excited about creating a positive environmental impact. Consider holding a park clean-up one weekend or organizing a volunteer day for employees to give back to the community each quarter.

Volunteering is another way employees can build relationships and create a stronger connection to the environment and society. It’s also an excellent way for companies to bolster their CSR reputation within the community. 

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7. Provide Eco-Friendly Resources

Education is vital when it comes to establishing sustainability at work. Employees may be eager to participate and find greater purpose in the company’s environmental initiatives but not fully understand their impact or how to start. 

Companies should provide eco-friendly resources that inform employees about current environmental issues and offer straightforward ways to make a difference. Providing this information could also help to relieve their eco-anxiety and hopelessness regarding climate change. 

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Corporate Sustainability Works Best With Employee Engagement

A company can only succeed at sustainability through collective employee action. Developing a robust sustainability initiative will go nowhere unless employees are excited and ready to hit the ground running. Consider these seven tips for engaging employees through sustainability and improving the world.

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Jane Marsh

Jane is the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she shares practical tips on how to live a greener life.

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